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This morning, a pair of earthquakes hit Assisi, Italy, destroying the inner chapel of the 13th-century Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, along with frescoes by Cimabue. Two surveyors from the Italian Culture Ministry, as well as a monk and a novice, were killed by falling rubble. The Basilica is considered by many to be the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, with frescoes by Cimabue, Giotto and other artists.

The new 742-acre, seven-building Getty Center in Los Angeles, designed by Richard Meier and opening on Dec. 16, 1997, was financed by $107.9 million in "certificates of participation" issued by the California Statewide Communities Development Authority. Standard & Poor's gives the bonds a triple A rating, noting that the Getty Trust had total assets of nearly $7 billion at the end of fiscal 1997.

Efforts to move a clothing store, Esprit de Corps, into the ground floor of SoHo's pioneering gallery building at 600 West Broadway has resulted in a lawsuit, according to the New York Times. Sonnabend, Castelli and Charles Cowles, who each own their own floors, object to the plan, which was hatched by Wouter Germans and Frits deKnegt, who jointly own the first and fourth floors. What kind of rent can you get for a SoHo storefront? Would you believe $53,000 a month to start?

Two top members of Sotheby's management, auctioneer Simon de Pury and Daniella Luxembourg, have resigned to launch their own art-investment fund, Reuters reported on Wednesday. Named DPL, the fund is to be based in Geneva with an office in New York. It will specialize in 19th- and 20th-century blue chips and is backed by an unnamed group of collectors.

The Andy Warhol Foundation has issued its ten-year report, which notes that 733 grants totaling $22.1 million have gone to arts groups over the last decade. The foundation is in strong fiscal health with $20 million in the bank, according to director Arch Gillies, who told the Artnewsletter that he expects his organization to disburse about $2.5 million in grants for the fiscal year ending Apr. 30, 1998.

You can still mark your calendar and catch the last two (of three) lectures on "Art of the 1990s for Beginners and Intermediates" by Jerry Saltz at the Drawing Center. " Weird Realism" is the topic for Oct. 1 and "Mutant Greenbergian Abstraction" on Oct. 8. Both lectures begin at 7 p.m.; bring $5 for admission.

New York's Spanierman Gallery opens "American Art: 1850-1950 for the New Collector," Oct. 4-Nov. 29, 1997, featuring works priced from $250 to $15,000 by ca. 90 artists. At the bargain end is The Infant Hercules Protected by a Goddess (ca. 1815), an ink wash drawing by John James Barralet for $500; John Neagle's graphite drawing Head of a Boy (ca. 1830) for $500; and Abstract No. 14 (ca. 1940s), a gouache by Rolph Scarlett for $1,250.

The Art Institute of Chicago has received a collection of some 400 Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian art from trustee Marilynn Alsdorf, who assembled the collection with her late husband, James. Selections from the collection are presently on view at the AIC, Aug. 2-Oct. 26,1997.

Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher hosts an afternoon benefit on Oct. 3 at Christie's Los Angeles designed to raise more than $25,000 for the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. Tickets to the 1 p.m. reception are $125 per person; contact Jane Vlahos at (213) 555-4581.

Looking for new talent? The first "Wight Biennial" featuring new work by 14 grad students from MFA programs across North America opens at the UCLA Wight Gallery in Los Angeles, Oct. 3-Nov. 21, 1997. The artists include Tetsuji Aono, Erik Campbell, Samara Caughey, Elizabeth Cooper, Guillermo Atilano Creus, Karin Geiger, Charles Barlow Irvin, Mark Jetton, Sunny Ream, Jeannie Simms, Won Ju Lim, Michelle Alperin, Carol Irving and Rebecca Near.

The Gramercy International Contemporary Photography Fair opens at the SoHo Grand Hotel, 310 West Broadway, Oct. 3-5. The participating galleries range from American Fine Arts and Bonni Benrubi to Bob van Orsouw and David Zwirner. Admission is $10.

The World Monuments Fund in New York has issued its 1998-99 list of the 100 most endangered historic sites in the world, and kicked off a fund-raising effort boosted with a $5-million pledge from American Express. Five sites are in the U.S.: Fort Apache, Ariz.; Bodie State Historic Park, Cal.; Mesa Verde National Park, Colo.; Amish country in Lancaster County, Pa.; and South Pass Cultural Landscape, Wyo. In all, 20 sites are in Western Europe, 25 in the former Soviet bloc, 19 in Asia, six in Africa, six in North America, nine in South America, 11 in Central America and the Caribbean and four in Oceania.

Who did those ten small dioramas that you can see by peering through holes in the construction wall surrounding the new Deutsche Bank headquarters building at 31 West 52nd Street in New York? They are Jerald Frampton, John Klima, Ming-Wei Lee, Susan Leopold, Tom Nussbaum, Alyson Pou, Michael Sarff, the team of Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg, and studio SUMO. The works, there till Dec. 20, were selected by Deutsche Bank curator Liz Christensen.

In conjunction with its Nov. 10 auction of the Victor and Sally Ganz collection, Christie's has published A Life of Collecting: Victor and Sally Ganz, a 230-page book with commentaries from Judith Goldman, Carter Ratcliff, John Richardson, Leo Steinberg, David Sylvester and others. The $100 tome can be ordered by calling 1 (800) 395-6300.